If you asked me to describe who Concrete Castles are, I would probably use the word revolutionaries. They are in it to dismantle and rebuild the pop and rock genres simultaneously with all the grace and boldness presented in their debut album Wish I Missed U. If already established acts like Olivia Rodrigo and PVRIS are making lemonade, they aren’t too far behind, cranking out limeades.
Despite their strict online aesthetic and influencer approach to releasing new music, they have a very traditional touch in this streaming era. You listen and hear someone who is a music fan first—they did get their start as a cover band—before they jumped on the chance to create their original content. You see a deep understanding of the components of what makes a song a success. They are skilled archers, and the band honors their strong relationship with form by reiterating multiple times what makes a hit on this record. Wish I Missed U is a collection of phenomenal, and deeply youthful songs. All of them delivered by the kind of person that would buy you all the junk food at arms reach, blast Taylor Swift for you, let you sit in your sadness, but will not let you stay there. Feeling sad, feeling hopeful, feeling sad and hopeful, living like you wish it was already tomorrow. These are common themes and are delivered with enthusiasm and keenness. Concrete Castles adores pop enough to know its tropes should be celebrated.
Concrete Castles degree in rock is also apparent in the craft of “Wish I Missed U” the album’s first and title track featuring a riveting feature by Anthony Green of Circa Survive. Along with “Hidden Faces” and “Half Awake” as well. This trio understands how songwriting becomes euphoric when a rhythm, electronic modulation, note, or lyric can transform an average song into something whimsical. Those moments are everywhere: the call back to missing someone in “Atmosphere”, the crisp vocals in the “Just a Friend”, and the pop-punk influence at the core of the remarkable “Mess”.
The binding of these songs together in an album is proof of Concrete Castles’ strengths. They are so elastic it seems it will be impossible to constrict them to just one genre moving forward in their already bright futures. This versatility isn’t incoherent, however. It is focused enough we have a solid picture and sound of the band; it feels like a genuine exhibition of their talents. Releasing covers at first gave these artists room to test their limits, and prepared them to take their careers seriously. Wish I Missed U was well worth the wait and deserves the attention, even if it ends up being a small chapter of this band’s unfolding story. For listeners who decide to march ahead and give it a listen after this review, know it’s the best introduction yet to one of this generation’s new wave of talent.
Wish I Missed You is now available to stream and download via all digital service providers. Make sure to check out their music video for “Thrill” below as well!